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What is significance of Geographical Indications?

What is significance of Geographical Indications?

A geographical  indication  is  a  geographical  name  signifying  that  a  product  originates  in  a country or a specific locality. Recently, geographical indication (GIs) emerged as one of the most important instrument of protecting quality, reputation or  other  character  of  goods  essentially  attributable  to  their geographical  origin.

It is valuable to providence, a ‘source identifier’ and indicator of quality. GI helps to promote its goods “eligible for relief from acts of infringement and/or unfair competition”.

The concern shown  by  the  World  Intellectual  Property  Organization  (WIPO)  and  World  Trade Organization  (WTO)  gave  new  impetus  to  protection  of GIs. According  to  the WIPO Standing Committee on the Law of Trademarks, Industrial Designs and Geographical Indications  “a  geographical  indication  is  best protected  under  trademark  and  unfair competition  law.  Trademark  having  acquired  in  good  faith  had  to  be  protected  against conflicting  geographical indications.”

Protection  of  GI  prevent  third  parties  from  passing  off  their  products  as  those originating  in  the  given  region.  Famous examples are ‘Champagne’ for sparkling wine and ‘Roquefort’ for cheese from areas of these names in France or ‘Darjeeling’ for tea from this district in India.  It  is not necessary for  these  indications  to be geographical names as  in  the case of ‘Feta’ for cheese from Greece or ‘Basmati’ for rice from India and Pakistan as there are no places, localities or regions with these names.

Plant varieties developed with traditional knowledge  and  associated  with  a  particular  region  can  also  be protected  as  geographical indications. The advantage in such protection is that it is not time-limited. However, needless to say, commercial benefits can be derived  from  the  protection  of  geographical  indications  only  when  the  name  becomes reasonably famous.

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